My fortieth year.
I turned 40 yesterday (January 22, 2023). I am feeling the best I ever have. This journal entry is to acknowledge how at middle age I am feeling at my best and reflect on my gratitude for my first 4 decades. Over this last year I felt like I was entering a new era of my life, or at least how I look at it is new. My 20s and 30s were marked by a lot of personal, professional, and external turmoil. All of which weighed on me more than I knew. Tragedy and loss are part of life, I’m not deluded into thinking I won’t face adversity. But I have faced great challenges and come out on the other side. I now know I can handle them and feel that the world will continue to turn. I’m not defined by my setbacks and losses.
After 7 years of running my business I finally feel confident that I’m pretty dang good at my job, and am getting better at being a leader. My early career I was changing positions frequently, and often had multiple jobs and projects at once. Always with one eye on the door. It has sunk in that this really is what I do and will be my vocation for the foreseeable future. My lizard brain isn’t panicking and looking for an escape anymore. I have done a lot of hard work to get here, which I can acknowledge that yes I did the work, but it was with a tremendous amount of help that I was privileged to have.
My wife Rachel first and foremost. She has been an inspiration and source of immeasurable support since we were college kids. She’s my partner, my best friend, she’s my roommate that I don’t get sick of. I wouldn’t be a fraction of who I am now without her. We’ve taken turns supporting each other financially and spiritually over the years. I would not have been able to start my business without her having a stable job. She recently quit her job to be a fulltime artist and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be taking my turn as the one with the stable job.
I worked with several therapists, doctors, and coaches recently. For years I’ve been going to Jessica Worthington for therapy. She’s helped me get past my codependence and build my sense of self. She caught my burnout last year and helped me turn myself around.
Importantly last year I went to Dr. Sandeep Mistry for a checkup. He found that my testosterone levels were normal, but low. For years, especially during covid, I was overworked and not taking care of myself. My health was suffering because of it. He put me on a Rx that increased my endogenous testosterone production. Which as a side effect gave me renewed energy to start taking care of myself and working out again. Which has largely fixed my own testosterone levels. That factor surely can’t be understated for my new found sense of confidence and well being.
As a result of that work I worked out with Tony Thomas at Kilter Fitness for several months. Learning how to work out got me to actually work out consistently. Which has done as much for my health and mental wellness as anything. I notice that if I haven’t worked out that I get anxious. Which leads to burnout, as I learned from Jessica Worthington.
With my business growing consistently I found myself in greater and greater positions of leadership. I would not call myself anyones boss but I am the spoke of the wheel of our cooperative. I need to be confident in our vision and hold our own in partnerships. I worked with Melanie Vessey at Promotional Rescue to learn how to hold myself out to the world. She did a lot to help build my confidence as a professional.
My next coach was Bob Madonna. One of my personal losses was losing my father a decade ago. I didn’t realize what a loss that was, not having his guidance at this stage in my personal and professional life. I was skeptical about working with an “executive” coach. But I knew as soon as we met for the first time I liked him and had a lot to learn. He taught me to give quick, precise feedback. How to get ego out of the way. And most importantly how to delegate. That my life would get better, my colleagues would be more fulfilled, and the company would do better if I could delegate. When I started working with him I added up 9 different roles I had at work. I’ve now handed off many of those roles and my colleagues are doing fantastic jobs and are more invested in the co-op than ever. I am still over busy, but it's much better, and I have time and energy for things I didn’t have before.
Small but not trivial, right before my last birthday I started using minoxidil (rogaine) on my hair. For over a year I’ve used it daily and its worked well for me. During quarantine and the transition to mostly working in videochat I’ve watched age and stress thin my hair more and more. Various barbers and stylists talked about shaving my head, getting plugs, toupees, and one finally asked why I hadn’t tried rogaine. Rogaine is for old guys in commercials from the 1980s, not me. I luckily gave in and tried it, and responded well to minoxidil. Now I have more hair, and fewer gray hairs, than I did a year ago. The best part is all the energy I got back that was spent staring at my scalp.
This last year I got to spend less time on my environmental work. It's time consuming, laborious, and expensive. My ambitions and means didn’t line up, and I had to accept that. Though as a result of my environmental work I have befriended some indigenous peoples and have been lucky enough to spend time with them in ceremony. Their friendship and learning about living on the land indigenously has been life changing. Just seeing first hand that there are people living differently is a revelation.
After thinking about it for many years I took up oil painting last summer. I remember reading once about Monet and how he continued painting late into his life, even as his vision failed him. There are many activities where our performance peaks at a young age, painting is something we get better at with age. It rewards practice and experience. I am enjoying learning to paint and look forward to decades of finding my voice on the canvas.
Last but not least, my extended family. My mom, brother and his wife, my two wonderful nieces, my inlaws, cousins, and friends who are as close as family. They have always been there for me and I hope I’ve shown up for them too. Everyone is healthy right now and I feel so fortunate for that. I got to see many of them over the holidays and in the leadup to my birthday. It's been a reflective and beautiful season.